Kent Goolsby and I both understand that there is no substitute for handsome. And in a parallel fashion, I'm sure we've both enjoyed the fruits of our random good genetic fortune. Our paths diverge, however, because Kent and friends, under the banner Kent Goolsby & The Gold Standard, also can write and perform a set of songs that will make you smile, make you sigh, make you and your loved one want to hug each other, and clear up your seasonal allergies. On the other hand, if I fronted The Gold Standard the product would be listenable only if the product consisted of instrumentals with no instrument allocated to my hands, Oh, and your allergies would be untouched. Accordingly, the remainder of this post will focus on Handsome Kent's No Substitute For Handsome.
The hallmarks here are excellent songwriting -- good stories with clever but efficient phrasing, and a great sense of fun. Goolsby's vocals, as others have noted, have a hint of Roger Miller, but more importantly they have an everyman accessibility that makes it easy to warm up to whatever he is singing about.
The album begins with teasing guitar riff while Kent explains his mother's advice for grooming and its likely affect on his future happiness. Pay attention guys, this is important advice.
The old time country "Rags to Rags" contains two lessons -- the possibility that life may not be an upward economic spiral, and that there may be a silver lining in not trying. By the third song, the wonderful,"This Daddy (Has Run Out of Strut)", our storytellers are admitting that work and pleasing the little missus have left them with an energy deficit.
"Natural Disaster" addresses an different economic fact, that being how fast one's daddy can fill up the family 'swear jar'. Yes, some lessons are learned close to home.
The gang slows it down a bit for the bluesy "Outskirts of Love", which has a subversively strutting arrangement. "Beast of Bourbon" tells of a working man's craving for the titular nectar as the weekend approaches.
Other highlights are the tributes to the narrator's true love -- "Leading Lady" and "Hitched".
This album is made for the hot days of the summer. Put it on the outdoor speakers for the afternoon picnic, or for drinking under the stars later. Everyone will feel better as they compete to prove whose daddy was the biggest natural disaster, and who was luckiest, or unluckiest, in getting hitched.
The players are Kent Goolsby (guitar/vocals), Steve Daly (guitar/mandolin), Dan Eubanks (upright bass), Roy Agee (trombone), Chris Housman (fiddle), and Anna Goolsby (vocals). No Substitute for Handsome is out now -- see the Bandcamp link below.